Characters & Settings: Making Them Interact – by Jami Gold…

The Difference Between Characters Floating and Living in the Setting

Have you ever heard the phrase “talking heads” when it comes to complaints about the writing of a story? The idea is that if our characters don’t interact with their surroundings, they seem more like body-less voices floating through empty space.

Many readers enjoy creating a “movie in their mind” as they read, as it help immerse them in the story. To create that mental movie, readers need contextual information about our characters and the setting.

  • Are our characters inside or outside?
  • Are they standing or sitting?
  • If they’re sitting, what are they sitting on?
  • If they’re outside, what’s the weather like?
  • If they’re inside, what’s the room like?
  • And so on…

We don’t need to give readers every detail (that would make for boring reading), but some basics, like what’s listed above, are essential. In addition, a few key details can make the difference between the sensation of our characters’ floating in a generic “outside” versus the feeling that our characters actually live in the space around them:

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